The Orbiter Mini UAV System is a compact and lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle designed for use in military and security applications. It is manufactured by the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems. The system is used for ‘Over The Hill’ reconnaissance missions, Low Intensity Conflicts and Urban warfare operations as well as any close range ISTAR mission.
The Orbiter UAV is capable of carrying a single payload per mission. The payload options available are D-STAMP, U-STAMP, Z-STAMP and T-STAMP.
More than 35 countries have purchased Orbiter UAVs – over 2,000 drones worldwide. Orbiter UAVs are operated by the Irish Army, Azerbaijani Land Forces, Mexican Federal Police, Israeli Sea Corps and Serbian Army.
Variations: Orbiter 1, Orbiter 2, Orbiter 3, Orbiter 3H, Orbiter 4, Orbiter 1K.
Aeronautics announced in May 2015 the Orbiter 1K “Kingfisher” version with a fuselage adapted to carry a 2 kg (4.4 lb) explosive payload, turning it into a loitering munition. It can be controlled by an operator, or is capable of being given a waypoint and independently scanning the area to detect and destroy a stationary or moving target. If a target is not detected, the Orbiter 1K can return to base and land for reuse.
Aeronautics apparently attempted to bomb Armenian military personnel with “one of its unmanned kamikaze aerial vehicles” for Azerbaijan back in October 2017, the Times of Israel reported in 2018. According to the leaked complaint with the Israeli Defense Ministry, Orbiter 1K suicide drone was dispatched to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region “at the request of Azerbaijani clients during a sales demonstration.” Aeronautics employees reportedly refused to carry out the 2017 mission and company executives subsequently stepped in to fly the drone themselves. Though it’s not clear if this was deliberate or not, the drone reportedly missed the target, only injuring two ethnic Armenian fighters.
The Orbiter 1k was employed by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Orbiter 3, Photo: Aeronautics
The Harpy is a loitering munition, or “suicide drone” produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The Harpy is designed to attack radar systems and carries a high explosive warhead. In 2004, when Harpys sold to China in 1995 were to be upgraded in Israel in 2004, the USA demanded Israel seize them, after they were spotted in a Chinese military drill in 2002, though Israel claimed the Harpys had no US components, and therefor the US had no claim on them. Eventually Israel didn’t upgrade the drones, but did return them to China.
The Harop, first sold in 2005 to Turkey, is a later development of the Harpy. It can operate both fully autonomously, or be manually operated in its human-in-the-loop mode. If a target is not engaged, the drone can return and land itself back at base. In both 2016 and 2020, the Harop was by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.